Find out what you need to do if you want to establish or extend a deer farm or change the species of deer being farmed.

Why DOC regulates deer farming

DOC is responsible for regulating deer farming under the Wild Animal Control Act 1977. This includes:

  • specifying the areas deer farming is allowed
  • specifying fencing requirements for deer farming
  • regulating deer farming in areas where it is permitted.

DOC aims to work with deer farmers to reduce the risks of deer escaping and forming new wild populations.

Our goal is to reduce the impacts of deer, along with other threats, on public conservation lands to maintain and enhance forest regeneration and indigenous ecosystem protection (DOC Policy Statement on Deer Control, PDF, 706K).

DOC's work supports the Government's broad goals of protecting the environment and growing an innovative economy for the benefit of all.

Requirements for deer farmers

Farmers must notify the Director General of Conservation (through DOC's Whangārei office) if they intend to:

  • farm deer
  • alter the perimeter fence of an existing farm
  • change the species of deer being farmed
  • buy an existing deer farm.

A "Notification of Intention to Farm Deer" form is available from the Whangārei District Office. Farmers may not keep deer on their property until DOC sends an acknowledgement of notification. This is free.

Notifications will be processed within 20 working days, provided the land on which deer are to be farmed does not include any land capability Class VII or VIII land and is not in an area where deer farming or certain species of deer are prohibited. Deer farming on Class VII land or higher may still be approved – check with the Whangārei District Office.

Deer Farming Notice No.3, available from the Whangārei office, shows areas where deer farming is prohibited and different species of deer may be farmed.

Map showing where deer farming is prohibited in the Auckland region.
Map showing where deer farming is prohibited in the Northland region - view a larger version (PDF, 154K)

Transfer of deer farm

Land owners should notify the Whangārei Office in writing if they are selling their farm or ceasing to farm deer. New owners must notify DOC of their intention to farm deer.

Conditions for deer farming

Deer farmers must comply with the following conditions:

  • As a minimum, boundary fences should meet the standards for an adequate deer-proof fence according to the Deer Farming Notice No. 5, 2008, which is under the Wild Animal Control Act 1977 (see diagram of the minimum fencing standards for specific deer species).
  • Paddocks with fences not up to standard must not be used until the fences have been repaired or upgraded.
  • The deer farm must be under adequate supervision.
  • Births, deaths, purchases and disposals of all deer should be recorded.
  • Any suspect disease in farmed deer should be reported to the nearest Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) office. MPI staff will investigate and advise what action is needed.
  • All deer being moving on and off the farm should be ear tagged and have appropriate movement documentation (MPI requirement).
  • Live deer should only be supplied to bona fide deer farmers or slaughterhouses.

Deer farmers who contravene the Wild Animal Control Act or regulations may be prosecuted and fined and have their authority to farm cancelled.

Commitment from DOC

DOC staff from the Whangārei District Office will:

  • provide advice on specifications for constructing deer fences
  • inspect new fences within 15 working days of notice of completion (initial inspections are free)
  • inspect deer farms every two to five years, giving seven days advance notice of the intended inspection
  • give written notice to farmers to fix fences where they fail to meet the standards.

Deer escapes

Where deer escape from enclosures or during transport they must be recaptured or, if this is not possible, destroyed.

If the deer cannot be caught, the Escaped Deer hotline 0800 FIND DEER (0800 346 333) must be informed within 24 hours of the escape. This system has been set up by DOC and the Northland Regional Council to support the region when there is an escape.

Deer that are properly identified remain the property of the owner except where the animal enters onto Crown land. If they aren't identified they become the property of the Crown.

Fencing requirements

General specification

A person constructing or repairing a deer fence must comply with the following specifications.

  • The maximum distance allowed between two strained posts on flat terrain is 400m. The maximum distance between two strained posts on uneven terrain is 200m.
  • All wires must be fastened on to the inside of posts.
  • The bottom wire of all fences must be placed as close to the ground as possible, all ground irregularities must be smoothed, and all depressions filled with solid fill to allow no space between the ground and the bottom wire of more than 75mm for all species of deer.
  • Deer mesh fences must have a single strained bottom wire. For fallow the line wire must be attached to, or close to, the bottom wire of the netting with a maximum spacing between wires of 50mm. A line wire underneath the netting is also required for wapiti and red deer.
  • Loading facilities must be contained within the perimeter fence.
  • Post and strainer staples must be a minimum gauge of 4mm, and at least 50mm long.
  • Flood gates must be designed to prevent the escape of deer.
  • A natural barrier may only be used as a substitute for fencing where it prevents the escape of deer.
  • Netting must be strained to comply with manufacturer tensile guidelines.

Making additions to height of an existing fence

If an existing fence is to be increased in height, the existing fence must already have at least 7 line wires with materials, spacings, and specifications as per the illustration before the addition is made.

Requirements for additions to fence height using netting:

  • There must be an overlap of 300mm (minimum) between the wire fence and the top-up netting. They must be securely joined (clipped or tied) at a maximum interval of 1m.
  • Each existing post requires the addition of one full-length batten, quarter-round or equivalent to support the top-up netting.
  • The minimum height above ground, minimum number of line wires, maximum space between line wires, maximum space between vertical wires must be the same as specified for a netting fence.

Requirements for additions to fence height using line wires:

  • A minimum of 6 line wires must be used.
  • Posts, battens and strainers must be of one continuous length for the full height of the fence.
  • The minimum height above ground, minimum number of line wires, maximum space between line wires and maximum space between vertical battens must be the same as specified for a wire and batten fences.

Perimeter fence gates

Species of deer to be held: red, wapiti, fallow

Perimeter fence gates: Hard-fill or concrete is required under gates or fences which run over culverts. Hung gates must butt against the full inside surface of the latching post, and open inwards where terrain permits.

Gate, hinges and locks: Minimum height of gate frame 1.9m

Construction: Timber: rail dimensions a minimum of 100mm x 25mm. Three uprights (one centred) and two diagonal stays on each side of the gate. 'MZ' bolts must be used.

Rail spacing must be no more than 100mm apart up to 1.2m. Above 1.2m a maximum of 150mm apart. Steel pipe: minimum wall thickness of 3mm; internal diameter 25mm.

Covering: Gate must be covered with chain-link netting with a maximum aperture of 75mm and wire gauge of 3.15mm at least; must be laced with galvanised lacing wire 2mm at least.

Gate hinges: Hinges and gudgeons to be a minimum of 20mm diameter. Two welded gate lugs of 20mm x 25mm. One hinge must be reversed, or otherwise constructed so that gates cannot be lifted off (includes pinning)

Gate locks: Self-locking devices are recommended. Gates must be locked when not in use.

Diagram showing DOC perimeter fencing requirements for deer farms in regulated areas.
Diagram showing fencing requirements for deer farms in regulated areas | View a larger version (JPG, 489K)


If you need further information contact:

Whangarei Office
Phone:   +64 9 470 3300
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   2 South End Ave
Whangarei 0110
Postal Address:   PO Box 842
Whangarei 0140
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